Stress Management For Teachers – Redefining Comfort Foods
Stress management can be a powerful tool for wellness since too much stress is bad for you. There are many strategies, and one of them includes what you eat.
As teachers, we often find ourselves busy and stressed. In many cases, we tend to make poor nutritional choices that can actually increase our stress levels. As you know, stress can really affect our moods and productivity. A healthy diet can help counter the impact of stress by shoring up the immune system and lowering blood pressure.
So the main questions are…
- How Can We Relieve Stress Using Food?
- Is There a Stress Management Diet I Should BE Using?
The way we eat can absolutely affect our mood and our ability to cope with stress. By eating the right foods, we can trick our bodies and brains so that they can battle stress more effectively. As a bonus, when our stress levels are lower thanks to a better diet, we won’t be victims of “stress eating”.
Stress-Busting Foods – How They Work?
Foods help tame stress in several ways. First of all, foods can cut levels of the “stress hormones” such as cortisol and adrenaline. More important, certain foods will boost levels of serotonin, a calming brain chemical.
Re-Defining “COMFORT FOODS”
What makes a food comforting? All foods are calming. Whenever we are eating, we feel better. But there’s a huge difference between tapping into a food’s inherently calming properties and using any food as a kind of emotional anesthesia. So when I talk about calming foods, I don’t mean so-called comfort foods. I mean meals and snacks that will truly soothe and calm you.
Do you know which foods are stress busters?
In order to stay at your peak, intent to eat some of the following foods:
Oatmeal: Talk about comfort food! A complex carbohydrate, oatmeal causes your brain to produce serotonin,(neurotransmitter made in your brain that elevates your mood). And If you’re already a carb lover, enjoy this one for breakfast, snack or dinner.
Switch coffee for green tea: While it does contain caffeine, green tea also has an amino acid called L-Theanine which is linked with feeling cooler under pressure. This slimming drink is a brain booster as well, enhancing mental performance. Drink two cups each day and you’ll enjoy a focused calm.
Almonds: Get some stress-relief munching on almonds, which are rich in vitamins B2 and E. Both of these nutrients help bolster the immune system during times of stress or depression. To get the benefits, snack on a quarter of a cup every day.
Dark chocolate: Go for varieties that contain at least 70% cocoa. Just a bite, (not a whole bar!) of dark chocolate has the power to regulate your stress levels by reducing your stress hormones, including cortisol. And finally, dark chocolate contains unique natural substances that create a sense of euphoria similar to the feeling of being in love!
Bananas are a great source of tryptophan which is a chemical that when released into the blood stream, converts into the feel-good hormone, serotonin. So if you’re feeling like everything is getting to be a bit too much, grab a banana…or two!
Seaweed: Most commonly seen at your local sushi restaurant, try the delicious “seaweed salad”. Seaweed is another food that makes you happy because of it is very high in tryptophan content, (an amino acid that helps in the production of serotonin) as well as a great source of magnesium, a mineral that helps relax your muscles. Seaweed is a good alternative to whole grains for those that are gluten sensitive. Don’t like seaweed? Other green, leafy vegetables are good magnesium sources. Or try some cooked soybeans or a fillet of salmon, also high in magnesium.
Blueberries: Powerful in antioxidants and vitamin C, making them extremely beneficial for relieving stress. When we’re stressed, our bodies need vitamin C and antioxidants to help repair and protect cells.
Water: Staying hydrated can keep your stress levels down. All of our organs, including our brains, need water to function properly. Studies have shown that being just half a liter dehydrated can increase your cortisol- a stress hormone- levels. Keep a mug of water on your desk so you always have some with you. Sip it all day long. As your cells rehydrate, you will look and feel younger and more vibrant.
Load up on whole grains: If you’re feeling grumpy, the best idea is to eat an all-carb whole grain snack and you should feel happier within a half hour. The carbs raise blood sugar, which boosts serotonin. Aim for 30 grams of carbs: 4 cups of air-popped popcorn or half of a whole wheat English muffin will do the trick.
Start this weekend including these foods into your diet, and after a few weeks, they’ll become a habit so you won’t even have to think about good nutrition. Your body—not to mention your stress level—will feel the difference!
Please, let me know how these small and powerful changes make you feel!
Love & Light to you,
Master Yoga Instructor and Life Coach